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First ASC Certified Farmed Pangasius now available

February 18, 2013

Hamburg, 18th of February 2013 – Today, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) celebrates the market launch of pangasius with its global, independent trademark for responsibly farmed seafood into Germany. After the launch of tilapia in the summer of 2012, pangasius is the second farmed fish species to meet the standards of the ASC certification programme. The pangasius is recognisable by the aquamarine ASC logo on the packaging. This logo guarantees consumers that the fish they are purchasing has been responsibly farmed with respect for the environment and social aspects.

Urgency to transform aquaculture

The establishment of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). Fish farming is the fastest growing food production sector in the world. Around 2018, the fish production from farming will already surpass that of wildly caught fish. Companies with the ASC quality mark for example prevent the environment from being affected by water pollution, adopt strict guidelines to stop farmed fish from escaping and adhere to guidelines related to social conditions for workers and local communities. As an independent organisation, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) manages the standards and the certification process. ASC does not certify the farms itself; this is done by external certifiers. The method is similar to the familiar certification programmes for sustainable fishery (MSC) and tropical hardwood (FSC).

“The demand for protein-rich seafood is rapidly increasing,” says Chris Ninnes CEO of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. “If we do nothing, there will be major environmental consequences. Some fish and shrimp farms in Asia have seriously affected valuable mangrove forests areas that serve as nurseries for the ocean and constitute natural coastal defences. Aquaculture can contribute to feeding the growing world population, but this must be done responsibly. The introduction of ASC certified tilapia and pangasius are the first steps. Soon, other products bearing the ASC logo will be available in stores and in restaurants. Together we can make responsibly farmed fish mainstream.”

Pangasius, a good example

The popularity of pangasius has soared over the last ten years. The fish species – which is widely cultivated in Vietnam – is the fifth most eaten fish in Germany. Over the last decade, the annual production in Vietnam has increased from 150,000 tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes in 2011. This explosive growth has led to unintended negative side effects. Measures have therefore been introduced to counteract this. The certification by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council serves as recognition for those fish farms which have organised their farming methods in a demonstrably responsible manner. They do not unnecessarily use antibiotics, purify their wastewater before discharging it into the river and also provide good working conditions.

“The development of the criteria for the responsible farming of pangasius took more than three years and involved some 600 people from different backgrounds. This industry which is so important for the region can only grow sustainably if its impact is reduced. Decreasing the pollution of the Mekong River and other rivers is one of the largest priorities in this respect,” says Chris Ninnes, director of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Among other things, ASC farms must therefore invest in the treatment of wastewater before discharging it into the river.

First ASC-certified pangasius farms in Vietnam

The first pangasius to bear the ASC label comes from 13of ASC certified farms in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Together they are now responsible for 10 per cent of the total production. They managed to implement the necessary adjustments in time to be the first to be awarded the ASC certification.

ASC pangasius available in many supermarkets

ASC certified pangasius will be available in several supermarkets throughout Germany. Brands and companies as TopSea, Frosta, Femeg, Queens, and Profish are all supplying pangasius products carrying the ASC logo.

More pangasius farms in Vietnam have all formally announced that they will be audited; and following a positive outcome, the supply of certified ASC products will substantially increase.

Other fish species

Following tilapia and pangasius, other fish species will also soon be ASC-certified are salmon, trout, abalone and bivalves (clams, mussels, scallops and oysters). The standards for shrimp and seriola/cobia are still under development.

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